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If I have a low poly animal and want to put some kind of a pattern on it, can I subdivide the mesh without making the subdivisions visible? I've tried using different subdivision modifiers but it just turns into a high-poly mesh. I figured out I could use the knife tool but it would take way too long to manually subdivide every single polygon.

So the question is, is there something like an automatic knife tool that doesn't make the cuts visible? And if not, is it even possible to subdivide a low-poly mesh and still keep it low-poly or at least low-poly looking?

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  • $\begingroup$ Apart from the answers given (which subdivide topology without smoothing), the pattern could be applied as a texture, not requiring extra polygons? $\endgroup$ – Robin Betts Dec 27 '18 at 10:32
  • $\begingroup$ I wanted to do without any textures but if everything else fails then it's textures, I guess. $\endgroup$ – Conny Dago Dec 27 '18 at 12:04
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it is possilble with the usual subdivision surface modifier, you just have to change it from „catmull clark“ to „simple“ then it is not going to be smoother but the resolution of the model is going to rise in a way that it stays in his original shape.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've tried that but it doesn't do anything. Catmull-clark works but Simple doesn't. $\endgroup$ – Conny Dago Dec 27 '18 at 12:04
  • $\begingroup$ @ConnyDago Simple just increases the Resolution but don‘t affect the shape in anyway $\endgroup$ – Emil Dec 27 '18 at 12:10
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Modifier

Use the Subdivision modifier in "Simple" mode (like Emil's answer says) for subdividing all the faces.

Loop cut

Or you can use a loop cut (shortcut: CtrlR, in Edit mode) for just subdividing a single loop of quadrilateral faces ("quads"):

enter image description here

(this has some requirements about the mesh, though).

Localized subdivide

To subdivide just a bunch of faces, select them then

W > Subdivide (until Blender 2.79)

Right Click > Subdivide (since Blender 2.80 using the default Left Click select keymap)

enter image description here

(this will increase the number of vertices in the adjacent faces).

All the three methods don't create new surfaces, only new "topology".

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Most of the answers here are really good, but I found another way of subdividing the mesh to add patterns. Just use Inset Face.

Select the body of the animal, press I in edit mode and I again to inset faces individually.

This works really well on triangular polygons, especially after you've used Decimate to triangulate them.

After insetting faces you can just assign them to a new material and change the color.

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